Fillies and mares star in Saturday’s Fleur de Lis Stakes, one of two Breeders’ Cup Challenge races at Churchill Downs. Champion and current No.-1 ranked older horse in the country Midnight Bisou is among the horses squaring off in the 1 1/8-mile race.
Find 10 fun facts about the race below.
1. This year is the 45th running of the Fleur de Lis, which was inaugurated in 1975.
2. The betting favorite has won the race each of the last three years, but prior to that was a four-year stretch of the favorite losing. This year’s favorite will undoubtedly be Midnight Bisou in her first start since a second-place finish in the Saudi Cup.
3. The Fleur de Lis is named for the symbol traditionally representing French royalty, as Churchill Downs’ home city of Louisville is named for the French king Louis XVI and includes a fleur de lis on its flag.
5. Three trainers will be competing for their first Fleur de Lis win on Saturday: Paul McGee (trainer of contender Go Google Yourself), Charles LoPresti (Red Dane), and Richard Baltas (Motion Emotion). The other four trainers have all won the race before.
6. Horses will be competing for more than just their share of a $200,000 purse: The Fleur de Lis is a “Win and You’re In” race for the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, earning the winner an expenses-paid berth in the race this fall at Keeneland.
7. The race has been contested on an off track (anything other than fast) just five times in its history. This year could be the fourth as there is currently a potential for thunderstorms in Saturday’s forecast.
8. Horses bred in Argentina (Blue Prize, 2018) and Chile (Infinidad, 1987, and Quilma, 1993) have won the race, but no European-bred ever has. Italy-bred Red Dane will try this year.
9. Four horses won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff the same year they ran in the Fleur de Lis: Escena (1998), Royal Delta (2012), Forever Unbridled (2017), and Blue Prize (2019).
10. No horse has won the race at longer odds than 44-1 Stoneleigh’s Hope in 1989. The filly earned her backers $90.60 for a $2 win bet.